Bolognese for ballerinas

spaghetti bolognese

We’re nearing the end of the school half-term holidays. It’s been a lovely week of movies (Mr Peabody and Sherman in 3D at the cinema and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on DVD, both of which get a big thumbs up from my girls), baking (my eight-year-old Jess created a superb Victoria sponge with her very own recipe mango buttercream topping, while Mia elected to make double chocolate chip cookies although Mummy did most of the work), library outings, times tables testing, story writing, soft toy safaris, Sir Frances Drake research, and dance shows.

Baking Collage

Jess and Mia have been rehearsing for months and months for their big dance show with the Susan Hill School of Dancing. This finally culminated in much-anticipated performances at the end of the half term break at the Forum Theatre in Bath. The girls and their friends had a day of dress rehearsals on Thursday, followed by matinée and evening shows on Friday and Saturday. I helped out back stage on the Thursday and Friday, which was great fun but truly exhausting. I thought being responsible for two children was full on, but looking after a group of 13 five-year-old girls was something else, and not to be repeated too quickly!

Sadly, Jess was forced to miss her Saturday performances as she fell ill with a bug – she was absolutely gutted, but at least she got to dance on the Friday. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see her as I was back stage, although friends who were in the audience tell me she danced beautifully. So this weekend, poor old Jessie has spent most of the weekend on the sofa under a duvet. She’s off her food – always a sure-fire sign she’s unwell – although I have succeeded in tempting her with a little fresh melon and chicken soup with rice. I’ll post the recipe for the soup very soon.

Dance Collage

Earlier in half-term week my mission had been to feed my two ballerinas with lots of nourishing food to keep their energy levels up for all that dancing. And so the obvious dinner after their gruelling Thursday of dress rehearsals had to be their all-time favourite, spaghetti Bolognese.

Spaghetti Collage

Spaghetti Bolognese has been both of their favourite meals since they were old enough to pick up a fork and spoon. Whenever I make it, I always make sure there’s some left over to go in the freezer for an easy supper another day.

spaghetti bolognese

Everyone has their own Bolognese recipe. Mine varies depending on what I have in the house.

Sometimes mine will have a drop of red wine in there, and sometimes it won’t. Sometimes there will be peppers or mushrooms (much to Jessie’s dismay as she’ll have to pick them out), or perhaps some smoked bacon. If I have a Parmesan rind lurking in the fridge, I’ll chuck that in during the cooking to give it a scrumptious flavour boost. I don’t always add caraway seeds, but I thought I would this time so I can enter it into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which has caraway as its theme. I think the caraway adds a lovely intense and slightly sweet flavour to the Bolognese, and I quite often use it in casseroles and other slow-cooked meat dishes.

Bolognese sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
500g minced beef
400g tin chopped tomatoes
beef stock cube or pot
½ tsp caraway seeds
dash Worcestershire sauce
Parmesan rind (optional)
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the chopped onions, carrots and celery until soft – around five minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes before adding the minced beef. Stir to break up any lumps and cook for two to three minutes until browned.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes. Half fill the tomato tin with hot water and pour into the pan. Sprinkle in the beef stock cube, or ‘plop’ in the stock pot. Add the caraway seeds, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and the Parmesan rind if you happen to have one left over.

Give it all a good stir and allow to simmer for half an hour or so. If it starts to look dry, add a little more water. Before serving, give it a taste and add a little salt and pepper if needed, and remove the Parmesan rind if used.

Serve with pasta, ideally spaghetti, and a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

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I’m adding this Bolognese to February’s Spice Trail, hosted by yours truly, as it features caraway seeds.

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I am also sharing this with February’s Family Foodies, hosted by Eat Your Veg and me, which this month has a Love theme. Spaghetti Bolognese is definitely a dish cooked with love for my loved ones, big and small.

Spicy sausage pasta

spicy sausage pasta

This is my go-to recipe when we have friends coming over for dinner but I just don’t have time to cook anything too elaborate. It’s such a simple pasta dish – it’s central ingredient is the humble sausage after all – but honestly, it tastes a million dollars and always impresses. It is full of deep, smokey flavours – rosemary, oregano, chilli and paprika – while the cream and Parmesan give it a wonderfully indulgent edge.

With a large glass of Chianti, this is my perfect dinner party dish. Just make sure you buy the best pork sausages your budget can stretch to.

The children love it too, but I generally ease back on the dried chillies when I cook it for them.

spicy sausage pasta

Spicy sausage pasta

Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
6 good quality pork and herb sausages, meat removed from skins and broken up
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 dried chillies, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
salt and pepper
250g dried fusilli
4 tbsp double cream
100g Parmesan, grated

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion until soft.

Add the sausage meat, rosemary, bay leaves, chillies, oregano, paprika and garlic, and fry together over a medium heat. Stir well to break up the sausages. Continue to fry for around 5 minutes until the sausage is browned.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, give it all a good stir and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring every now and again to help break up the tomatoes.

Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to the packet instructions, and drain thoroughly.

Stir the double cream into the sausage sauce. Pour the pasta into the sauce, along with half the Parmesan, and mix well to make sure all the fusilli is well coated in the sauce.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan sprinkled on top. And tuck in immediately. Or keep warm until your guests arrive.

spicy sausage pasta

Paprika is one of the key ingredients and so I am entering this spicy sausage pasta into this month’s Spice Trail challenge.

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Roast vegetable sauce for pasta

roast vegetable sauce for pasta

I have been cooking this sauce, or versions of it, since I was weaning my two girls onto solids. They are now five and eight and still enjoy it just as much, although the portion sizes are considerably bigger now. Back in the early days, they would eat the sauce on its own and as they grew older I started stirring it into penne or fusilli to make a delicious pasta sauce. They still love it this way, especially with a huge heap of grated cheese on top, along with a drizzle of olive oil.

It’s one of the easiest sauces in the world to make. All the ingredients are simply roasted in one pan and then blitzed in a food processor with some stock. I don’t even bother to peel the garlic.

vegetables

It’s extremely adaptable too and you can experiment with whichever vegetables take your fancy – or whichever vegetables you might be trying to sneak past your unsuspecting fussy eater.

I generally cook up a big batch of this sauce and freeze it in individual portions; perfect for a quick tea after school when the kids have clubs to rush off to.

roast vegetable sauce for pasta

Roast vegetable sauce for pasta

450g tomatoes
1 butternut squash, chopped into large chunks
1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
3 sticks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 courgettes (zucchini), chopped
3 garlic cloves
glug of olive oil
500ml vegetable stock (low salt)

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Place the tomatoes, chopped vegetables and garlic into a large roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and give it all a good mix to make sure everything is thoroughly covered. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and beginning to char a little.

Put the vegetables into a blender with the stock and blitz until smooth. Job done.

Simply stir into cooked pasta for an easy peasy supper.

Freeze the remainder of the sauce in individual portions. You should get around 12 portions out of it.

family-foodies

As this pasta sauce is an ideal way to introduce your children to vegetables and entice them to eat a few they might not be so keen on, I’m entering it into this month’s Family Foodies challenge, where the theme is ‘Hidden Goodies’.

Tagliatelle with lamb’s liver and a sage, chilli and garlic butter

Tagliatelle with liver text web

Could you come up with a meal for at least two people for under £3? That’s the challenge set by the leading food charity The Trussell Trust in partnership with Buyagift with the aim of raising awareness of just how difficult it can be to eat well on a limited budget.

I managed to come up with a dish but it wasn’t easy, and I really wouldn’t want to have to work with this budget every mealtime. But for so many people in this country, it is the reality they face each and every day. While the UK might be the seventh richest country in the world, many people here struggle to put food on the table.

You can help raise awareness of the work of The Trussell Trust and the urgent need for us as a nation to tackle food poverty by taking part in the challenge and coming up with your own recipe. You can also visit the charity’s website for more ways to support their work, from donating to your local foodbank to raising money for them as you do your online shopping.

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For my dish I decided to use liver as it is relatively inexpensive. Obviously a vegetarian pasta dish would have been cheaper still, but I wanted to see if I could manage a meat dish on this tight budget. I managed to buy 370g of lamb’s liver from my local butcher for just £1.48 and I only used half of it. A little liver goes a long way.

OK, so not everyone likes liver but I’m sure that’s because it’s generally been overcooked when they have tried it. In this dish it is sliced very thinly and fried for only a few minutes, so it is beautifully moist and tender. My husband doesn’t normally eat liver but he enjoyed this. Plus it was cooked in a very generous amount of butter, with lots of chilli, garlic and sage, so absolutely packed full of flavour. It actually tastes quite luxurious despite the cheap ingredients.

Tagliatelle with liver2 text web

Tagliatelle with lamb’s liver and a sage, chilli and garlic butter

Total spend: £2.21½

250g dried tagliatelle (47½p)
1 egg (24p)
170g lamb’s liver, thinly sliced (74p)
2tbsp olive oil (13p)
75g butter (36p)
1 red chilli, finely sliced (22p)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (5p)
6 sage leaves, finely chopped (free from the garden)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the tagliatelle in salted, boiling water according to the packet instructions.

Beat the egg in a shallow dish, add the liver and coat well, and leave for a few minutes.

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the chilli, garlic and sage and fry for a couple of minutes.

Drain the liver and add to the frying pan. Increase the heat to medium and fry for three to four minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Season to taste and remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta and add to the frying pan. Toss well to coat the pasta in the butter and distribute the pieces of liver. Serve immediately.

As well as entering this dish into The £3 Challenge, I’m also sharing it with The Spice Trail (where the theme this month is chilli), Credit Crunch Munch (hosted by Dinner with CrayonsFab Food for All and Fuss Free Flavours), Cooking with Herbs (hosted by Lavender & Lovage) as it features fresh sage, and Pasta Please (hosted by The Spicy Pear and Tinned Tomatoes) as it contains garlic.

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Posh macaroni cheese

posh macaroni cheese

I posted a recipe for my macaroni cheese a little while ago. It’s a firm family favourite in the Bangers & Mash household. But I also had to bring you this version. It’s not my recipe. It’s from the acclaimed Australian chef Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill; a beautiful tome of a cookbook, as much a coffee table book as a practical guide for the kitchen. If I actually had a coffee table, this would certainly take pride of place on it.

I received the cookbook courtesy of Qantas, who as well as offering flights to Australia are passionate about spreading the word about Australian food. In addition to running restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth , Neil Perry is the chief consulting chef for Qantas.

Rockpool Collage

The recipes in Rockpool Bar & Grill are more aspirational than every day; the kind of dishes I’d probably only attempt if I were cooking for a special dinner party. Not surprising though as the aim of the book is to show you how to create restaurant-style dishes at home. It’s impossible to stop your mouth from watering as you turn the pages, which also provide a behind-the-scenes account of life in the Rockpool restaurants, as well as stories about the producers and suppliers who inspire Neil Perry’s menus.

So while I was rather taken with dishes like scampi ceviche, Wagyu beef bolognese, octopus braised in red wine and strawberry tart with balsamic vinegar ice cream, it might be a little while before I work up to trying these at home, particularly as they’d probably blow my weekly food budget in one meal. Instead it was the Rockpool’s take on good old macaroni cheese I felt would go down well with my family. This is what Neil Perry says:

Pasta and cheese is the best combo. My daughter Josephine can polish one of these off for dinner any night of the week. I first started making this years ago. I loved going to America and having mac ‘n’ cheese, more often than not at steakhouses. I began with a recipe from a great friend and truly one of the world’s great chefs, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Per Se. If you start with that kind of pedigree, you’re going to end up with a great dish, and a great dish I did end up with. It’s a perfect marriage with a good steak but is equally at home with all of the other meats and poultry we serve at the restaurant. Use good cheese, really good quality hard Italian pasta and a smoky bacon. Your efforts will be well rewarded.

I was curious to see how different restaurant-style macaroni cheese would be from what we usually make. And I have to say it is very good. Very, very good actually. My husband and the girls wolfed it down greedily and it really does work well with a decent steak. We enjoyed ours with griddled sirloin and a simple salad instead of our usual Sunday roast, and it was a rather special meal indeed.

Oh, and there’s are some heavenly-looking lemon meringue cupcakes in there that I’m pretty sure I’ll be having a go at very soon too.

posh macaroni cheese

Neil Perry’s mac ‘n’ cheese

Serves 4 as a light meal or a side

400g dried macaroni
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 rashers smoked bacon, diced
500ml single cream
125g Cheddar cheese, grated
250g Gruyère cheese, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
2 tsp Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
80g fresh breadcrumbs

Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain again and place in a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until golden. Drain on paper towel, then add to the macaroni.

Return the pan to the heat, add the cream, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and gradually add the Cheddar and Gruyère, stirring until melted.

Combine the garlic, paprika and mustard to form a paste, then stir into the cream mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add to the macaroni mixture and stir through.

Heat a grill to high. Divide the mixture between individual heatproof bowls or a 1.5 litre capacity baking dish. Sprinkle over the Parmesan, then the breadcrumbs. Grill until the top is golden.

posh macaroni cheese

Disclosure: Qantas provided me with a complimentary copy of Rockpool Bar & Grill for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions are totally my own.

Fusilli with broad beans, mascarpone and thyme

Broad Bean Collage

We’re getting a steady crop of broad beans from our veg patch at the moment, along with peas, sugar snaps and courgettes. The cucumbers don’t look far off from picking either; it’s the first year we’ve tried growing them from seed and they’re proving much easier than I thought they would. Those are famous last words of course. They’ll probably develop some nasty disease now I’ve said that and get completely wiped out. Let’s hope not.

The children are really enjoying all the homegrown vegetables. When they’ve been involved in the sowing and the planting, they seem so much more up for the eating too. They’re loving the broad beans in salads, particularly potato salads with big chunks of sausage, and in soups. As they’re both big pasta fans, it was only a matter of time before I tried broad beans in a pasta sauce. I mashed some up with mascarpone cheese, thyme and lemon juice to coat fusilli and the girls gobbled it up greedily. My husband Jason was rather keen too and even ate the leftover cheesy-beany mash cold from the fridge! Note to self: try it as a sandwich filling next time…

fusilli with broad beans

Fusilli with broad beans, mascarpone and thyme

Serves 4

1kg broad beans, podded
250g mascarpone cheese
juice of half a lemon
handful of fresh thyme, picked
salt and pepper
olive oil
500g dried fusilli

Quickly boil the broad beans in salted water for two to three minutes until just tender. Run under cold water to stop them cooking further and to cool them down a little before double-podding. Yes, it’s a bit of a faff but it’s well worth it. Then mash the beans roughly, using either a fork or a potato masher.

In a bowl, mix the mashed beans with the mascarpone, lemon juice, most of the thyme, a good amount of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook the fusilli in a large pan of salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and mix with the broad bean and mascarpone mixture. Add a little olive oil if it seems a little too dry or thick.

Serve with a little more thyme sprinkled on top. Summer on a plate – delicious.

fusilli with broad beans

And as this dish features lovely fresh thyme, I’m entering it into this month’s Cooking with Herbs event hosted by Karen over at Lavender & Lovage.

Cooking-with-Herbs

Round Up: June’s Recipes for Life challenge

June’s Recipes for Life challenge has been making me very hungry. All month long, tempting images of delicious pasta dishes have been popping up on my Twitter timeline or arriving in my inbox.

The challenge this month was to cook simple, healthy dishes with salmon, courgette (zucchini) and pasta. So what did you come up with?

spurscooksalmon

Martin, aka Spurs Cook, kicked things off with his attractive Salmon and Prawn Fishballs in a Tomato and Courgette Sauce The fish balls are served in a rich tomato sauce, flavoured with basil and garlic, giving the salmon and courgettes some ‘show time’.

shetland salmon orzo
As ever the photography from Elizabeth’s Kitchen is just exquisite, and these pictures of her Foil-baked Shetland Salmon with Orzo & Courgette Ribbons are no exception. The courgette ribbons are a simple way to create a very sophisticated and elegant looking dish.

bluekitchenbakes
While it might feature smoked salmon, normally considered a bit of a luxury treat, Blue Kitchen Bakes’ Smoked Salmon, Courgette (Zucchini) & Dill Pasta is an economical and satisfying dish, featuring value brand smoked salmon trimmings which totally suit Jen’s student budget.

jibberjabber

Another dish to make the most of these supermarket trimmings is this Smoked Salmon and Courgette (Zucchini) Pasta from JibberJabberUK. It’s a lovely light and summery pasta dish and I do like the idea of grating the courgette. Will be trying that tip very soon…

salmon cannelloni
Helen from The Crazy Kitchen created these simply gorgeous Salmon Canneloni, despite not being much of a fan of fish herself. Helen’s husband was rather happy with the choice of ingredients though, and I’d be more than happy if this was served up for me!

ontopofspag
Party nibbles weren’t really something I expected to see this month, but these Smoked Salmon, Raw Courgette (Zucchini) and Spearmint Cannelloni Bites from On Top of Spaghetti were a very welcome surprise entry. They formed part of an amazing birthday party spread prepared by Eleni for the The Mister, and I love the sound of the minty, lemony flavour combination.

salmoncarbonara
Carbonaras are rather popular at Chez Foti. Here at Bangers & Mash, we’re rather partial to Louisa’s sausage and courgette carbonara. For this challenge, Louisa has come up with a Smoked Salmon and Courgette Carbonara, which looks all set to become another family favourite for us too.

angelhair
Spurs Cook delivered another very tasty looking dish with his Angel Hair Pasta with Salmon and Courgettes. I like the idea of the salmon with the smoky pancetta – yum!

pasta-salad-2
Next is this wonderful Warm Pasta Salad with Courgette & Herbs from Sarah at The Garden Deli. Now as you probably know, Sarah is vegetarian so salmon isn’t an ideal ingredient for her. So we agreed she could enter her salad featuring the other two ingredients, and I’d have a go at making it to ensure it worked with salmon too. And indeed it did. It’s a great mix of flavours, especially with all those fresh herbs. Above you’ll see Sarah’s version sans salmon, and mine below avec.

warm pasta and salmon salad

I had to play a little with the ingredients for my take on The Garden Deli’s pasta salad, as I’m allergic to avocado and my friend’s son, who was over for lunch, doesn’t like cheese, so I tried disguising it by grating it and letting it melt in, rather than serve as shavings on top. I also left out the chilli as I was cooking for kids, but next time it’s definitely staying in!

salmon-orzotto
This Smoked Salmon & Courgette Orzotto from Claire at Under The Blue Gum Tree really looks as pretty as a picture, and having made several of her dishes in the past, I know it will taste every bit as good as it looks. Risottos are usually fairly time-consuming, with all that stirring required, but Claire has used orzo pasta for a much speedier alternative. A beautifully delicious and healthy dish – I can’t wait to make it for my family.

salmon and courgette raviolli
Here’s another stunning plate, this time from Rich in Flavour with his Salmon and Courgette Ravioli. I’ve never made my own pasta before, but I think dish might just have inspired me. According to Rich, it’s not all that difficult and is really rather satisfying, plus he didn’t need a special pasta maker either – just a rolling pin. With its creamy salmon filling, this is one I’m definitely bookmarking.

salmon croquettes
Finally, I thought I’d better bring something to the table. So here are my Simple Salmon Croquettes with Courgette & Baby Leek Hollandaise. They really are very easy to make and a great one to get the children involved in making. They love rolling the little fish balls, and their hands are the perfect size. The main ingredient of the balls is tinned salmon, so it’s a fairly cheap and cheerful recipe too.

So who takes the winner’s medal this month? It was no easy task to select a winner this time and as ever I was grateful the decision wasn’t up to me. Tracey and the cookery club at SWALLOW had that unenviable task. So who did they choose…?

Well, they simply couldn’t decide between Blue Kitchen Bakes’ Smoked Salmon, Courgette and Dill Pasta and Spurs Cooks’ Salmon & Prawn Fishballs in Tomato and Courgette Sauce. Tracey and the team at SWALLOW loved both dishes and thought they’d make perfect meals for the group to have a go at in their cookery lessons. So well done to both Jen and Martin – some little prizes will be coming your way in the post very soon!

The three ingredients for July’s Recipes for Life will be announced very soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about the challenge and the work of SWALLOW take a look here.

Simple salmon croquettes with courgette and baby leek hollandaise

salmon croquettes

This is a pretty quick and easy meal to rustle up, particularly if you’ve got little children whose hands are the perfect size for rolling the little croquettes – a posh name for fish balls basically.

salmon croquettes

It’s also quick and easy if, like me, you cheat and buy a ready-made hollandaise sauce, rather than making your own from scratch. Clearly homemade hollandaise is what we should all aspire to, but when you’re working full-time like I am at the moment, it’s just not always possible. And there are some rather nice shop-bought ones around.

courgettes and baby leeks

I served my croquettes with pasta and the hollandaise sauce combined with courgette and baby leek. Or you could simply serve the baked balls with dips as an appetizer, or perhaps with salad as an alternative to falafel for a tasty pitta bread filling.

salmon croquettes

Simple salmon croquettes with courgette and baby leek hollandaise

Serves 4

1 tin salmon (around 200g)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp cream cheese
juice of half a lemon
large pinch of dried dill weed
½ tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper
1 baby leek, finely sliced
1 courgette, quartered lengthways and sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
200g ready-made hollandaise sauce (I bought a Tesco own brand variety)
handful of fresh chives, snipped

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.

Drain the tinned salmon and flake into a mixing bowl. Combine with the spring onions, cream cheese, lemon juice, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Using your hands shape the mixture into small balls and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly browned.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by gently frying the leek and courgette in the olive oil. When tender simply combine with the hollandaise sauce and heat through.

Serve with your favourite pasta. You can either mix the croquettes into the sauce (being careful so as not to break them) or pop the croquettes onto your pasta and pour over the sauce. Finally garnish with some snipped chives.

As this dish is so easy and uses the three key ingredients of salmon, courgette and pasta, I’m entering it into this month’s Recipes for Life challenge, which – as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now – I’m hosting on behalf of the incredibly fantastic charity SWALLOW.

recipes for life

My take on The Garden Deli’s warm pasta salad

warm pasta and salmon salad

You may have heard the three ingredients for this month’s Recipes for Life challenge are salmon, courgette (zucchini) and pasta.

Sarah from The Garden Deli has been an active supporter of the Recipes for Life challenge since it started back in February. Only problem is, sometimes the trio of ingredients include meat or, as is the case this month, fish. And as Sarah is a vegetarian that’s presented a slight problem. But because both SWALLOW and Bangers are inclusive types, and because Sarah asked so nicely, we’re happy to let her enter a vegetarian dish on the proviso that I test it out to see if it works with said meaty/fishy ingredient.

So that’s what I bring you here – Sarah’s Warm Pasta Salad with Courgette & Herbs, but with my addition of some oven-baked Scottish salmon.

SalmonCollage

I topped a couple of Scottish salmon steaks with lemon slices and a grind of black pepper and then wrapped them loosely in foil. I then baked them in a fairly hot oven for around 15 minutes until just cooked through, when the bright pink turned pale pink. At the final stage of assembling the salad, I flaked chunks of the salmon into the dish.

Unfortunately I’m allergic to avocado so I had to adjust Sarah’s recipe a little more by boosting the amount of courgette and adding half a green pepper to the recipe too. Because I was cooking it for friends and their children as well as our own, I decided to omit the chilli as I wasn’t sure if their kids would be able to handle it. I only had cherry tomatoes rather than plum, and I grated the parmesan rather than slicing it as I knew one of my friend’s children wasn’t too keen on cheese so I attempted to disguise it by mixing it in before serving. Oh, and the fresh herbs I chose to use were oregano as we have so much in the garden right now.

But other than those little divergences, I stuck to Sarah’s recipe, and very good it was too. We enjoyed it for lunch today, and I’ll be having the leftovers for supper once I’ve got this blog post out the way.

warm pasta and salmon salad

I would definitely recommend giving Sarah’s recipe a go. Next time I make it I will definitely add chilli. It was fine without but I think it would be all the better for that little chilli kick. Chilli and lime are a match made in heaven, as they say.

I’m hosting the Recipes for Life challenge on behalf of the charity SWALLOW. Based in Midsomer Norton in the South West of England, this incredible charity works hard to support adults with learning disabilities live life to the full. One of their popular activities is the weekly cookery club and this challenge aims to find simple, tasty and wholesome dishes SWALLOW users can recreate in their cookery classes. The best of these will appear in a new cookbook SWALLOW is planning publish later this year to help raise much-needed funds for the charity.

If you’d like to enter this month’s challenge, you’d better get your skates on as the closing date is 25 June – only two days away.

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June’s Recipes for Life challenge: salmon, pasta and courgette (aka zucchini)


salmonpastacourgetteCollage

I’m still recovering from writing the round-up last night for May’s Recipes for Life, so I’m keeping this post short and sweet.

The three ingredients for June’s Recipes for Life are salmon (fresh, smoked, tinned or cured), pasta (dried, fresh, homemade, shop-bought, you can even use a tin of spaghetti hoops if you’re so inclined!) and courgette – also known as zucchini in certain parts of the world.

So get your culinary thinking caps on! What tasty creations can you come up with featuring salmon, pasta and courgette?

recipes for life

Through the Recipes for Life challenge, we’re looking for easy-to-follow, healthy dishes for members of SWALLOW’s cookery club to recreate in their sessions. Any other ingredients you use should therefore be readily available in most grocers or supermarkets.

SWALLOW is an amazing charity based in Midsomer Norton, which supports adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives.

The Recipes for Life challenge is running for six months and at the end, the best recipes will be included in SWALLOW’s new cookery book to help raise much-needed funds for the charity.

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above and available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by everyday items.
  3. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 25 June 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #RecipesforLife@BangerMashChat and@SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet each one we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much-needed funds for its ongoing work.

Thanks to everyone who has supported and taken part in Recipes for Life so far. We can’t wait to see your entries for June!

June’s entries

  1. Salmon and Prawn Fishballs in a Tomato and Courgette Sauce from Spurs Cook
  2. Foil-baked Shetland Salmon with Orzo & Courgette Ribbons from Elizabeth’s Kitchen 
  3. Smoked Salmon, Courgette (Zucchini) & Dill Pasta from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  4. Smoked Salmon and Courgette (Zucchini) Pasta from JibberJabberUK

  5. Salmon Canneloni from The Crazy Kitchen
  6. Smoked Salmon, Raw Courgette (Zucchini) and Spearmint Cannelloni Bites from On Top of Spaghetti
  7. Smoked Salmon and Courgette Carbonara from Chez Foti

  8. Angel Hair Pasta with Salmon and Courgettes from Spurs Cook
  9. Warm Pasta Salad with Courgette & Herbs from The Garden Deli
  10. Smoked Salmon & Courgette Orzotto from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  11. Salmon and Courgette Ravioli from Rich in Flavour
  12. Simple Salmon Croquettes with Courgette & Baby Leek Hollandaise from Bangers & Mash